READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 6th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 6th

Searching, Searching, Searching, Still Searching, For an Ag Secretary

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue may be the leading candidate to become Agriculture Secretary, but the Trump transition team continues to meet with others. Politico Thursday said again Purdue is the likely nominee, the same day Indiana farmer Kip Tom was spotted at Trump Tower. Tom is a 7th generation Indiana farmer who lost a Republican primary bid to represent the 3rd Congressional District of Indiana. Members of the Trump team this week said the President-elect is searching for the “most qualified” person to run the department. Former California Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado (Mal-do-nah-do) was also considered to be the leader of the pack earlier this week. However, some lobbyists have pointed out that Maldonado supported the Humane Society of the United States in the fight over the housing for egg-laying chickens in California, according to the Hagstrom Report. Meanwhile, two more have joined the Trump USDA landing team:  Russell Laird, vice president for federal relations at the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp., and Lance Kotschwar, chief ethics & compliance officer and vice president for government and industry affairs at the Gavilon Group.

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Canada Supports New Tariffs on U.S. Products If U.S. Retracts from NAFTA

A majority of Canadians support applying new tariffs on U.S. goods if the U.S. pulls out of the North American Free Trade Agreement. A new study for Canada’s CTV News Network finds Nearly 50 percent of Canadians said they support and 26 percent said they somewhat support new tariffs on American goods if the U.S. were to pull out of NAFTA and apply new tariffs and duties on Canadian goods. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has said that he would renegotiate or pull out of the trade agreement with Canada and Mexico once he is in office. Throughout the election campaign, he referred to NAFTA as the “worst deal” the U.S. ever signed. 60 percent of those polled in Canada believe if Trump does retract from NAFTA, Canada would be unlikely to negotiate a better trade deal with the United States.

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API Looking to New Administration with Hopes of RFS Changes

The American Petroleum Institute wants regulatory relief from the incoming Donald Trump administration. During an annual event in Washington D.C. this week, API CEO Jack Gerard says 2016 could be a banner year, but only if Congress and the administration permit it. Gerard pointed to the Endangered Species Act and the Renewable Fuel Standard, according to Agri-Pulse. API has long supported repeal or significant reform of the RFS, and Gerard says legislation capping biofuel blending demand could be introduced in the new Congress. Ethanol groups called a similar bill introduced last year “flawed” and lacking logic. Gerard says the RFS “constrains free market forces” and limits consumer choice. President-elect Trump pledged his support for the RFS on the campaign trail and sources close to his transition team say his pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, will also support biofuels. Pruitt, however, has been a vocal critic of the RFS in the past. But in a meeting with Midwest Senators Thursday, Pruitt said he would “follow the law” when it comes to the RFS.

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American Drivers Surpass 500 Million Miles on E15

Growth Energy says U.S. drivers have reached 500 million miles on E15 fuels. In a statement this week, Growth Energy said the figure was based on sales and consumption data reported over the past 12 months by gasoline retailers. The organization says the milestone highlights the fuel’s performance, safety, and value for American consumers. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says: “drivers are finding out that E15, which contains 15 percent ethanol, is an even better choice for their wallets, their engines and the environment.” E15 works for any vehicle 2001 and newer and is the most tested fuel to date, according to Growth Energy. Additionally, automakers approve E15 for use in nearly three-quarters of new cars, and the Environmental Protection Agency approves its use in 9 out of 10 cars on the road today.

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USDA Expands Help to Women and Hispanic Farmers

The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced more help for women and Hispanic farmers in resolving access issues to USDA programs. The expanded help by the USDA Ombudsperson is focused on Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development programs in California, Missouri, New Mexico and Texas. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says: “The Ombudsperson is another avenue for producers to highlight their shared concerns, while also allowing key issues to be brought to USDA’s leaders.” The office was created to serve as an independent, neutral, confidential and informal resource, that advocates for changes within the department.  More information about the Office of the Ombudsperson is available at USDA dot gov slash ombudsperson. (www.usda.gov/ombudsperson).

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EPA Funding Cleaner School Buses in Rural Communities

The Environmental Protection Agency is handing out more than $7.7 million to replace or retrofit older diesel school buses in rural communities across the country. The funds are going to 88 school bus fleets in 27 states, each of which will receive rebates through EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. The EPA says the new and retrofitted buses will reduce pollutants that are linked to health problems. Since 2008, the program has funded more than 700 clean diesel projects across the country, reducing emissions in more than 70,000 engines. Find a list of rural communities receiving funding online at EPA dot gov (https://www.epa.gov).

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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